In lieu of my previous comments regarding my aversion to pond-life, it may come as a surprise to some readers that I ever had a fish tank. However, the difference is that aquariums are controlled environments; I chose what kind of creatures inhabited my fish tank, and for the most part I chose pretty fish and not the sort that send shivers down your spine (with the exception perhaps of the algae eaters, otherwise known as sucker fish. These have small dark-green bodies with spiny little fins, large heads with bulging eyes and relatively enormous lippy mouths. They spend their lives glued to the side of the fish tank, sucking on the algae which they feed on). Anyway, there were definitely no frogs in my tank.
Like I was inexplicably drawn to swimming; I similarly have no idea why I set my heart on a tropical fish tank. If I was a buddist, I’d perhaps suspect that in a previous life I was some kind of aquatic entity, like a dolphin or a mermaid.
A certain amount of skill is needed to successfully keep tropical fish – a certain amount of specialist knowledge and a certain amount of specialist equipment are required; for example: water heater, air filter and pump, lighting, plants, and chemicals to obtain the correct PH balance. It’s a bit of a science, really. And it takes time and patience. Patience. And. Time. Of course, I got a book out of the library and read up on it first. Like keeping rats, it’s best to find out what you’re letting yourself in for.
Before you even think about getting any fish you have to get the tank started, which involves attaining the right eco environment. Basically, you have to run the tank for several six weeks without any inhabitants. This, without sounding too scientific, gets the right sort of bacteria active. When fish are eventually added to the tank, you have to introduce them gradually: one or two over a period of time. It can be very frustrating. Then you have to carefully consider what sort of fish you are going to have. They need to be compatible: around the same size, as bigger fish will eat smaller ones; which part of the tank they will primarily inhabit - bottom, middle or top (or even the side, like the sucker fish); and what sort of role they will perform in the tank.
These are the fish I ended up with: several catfish - these live and feed on the bottom of the tank, and help to keep it clean; several of the aforementioned algae eaters – these help to keep the unsightly and rapidly growing algae down to a minimum; a couple of clown fish - these are coloured with vertical black and orange stripes, and live in the lower portion of the tank; half a dozen tetras - these are smaller fish that live in shoals. They have horizontal blue and red stripes, and flash through the water like lightening bolts. The show piece of my tank was two large silver coloured angel fish. They would effortlessly glide from here to there, and back again. Later on, I also got a single male Japanese fighting fish – these come in various colours. Mine was a vibrant purply colour, had beautiful long flowing fins, and a frowny squashed face like a sumo wrestler’s. You can only keep one of these because they are very territorial, and will fight other males, hence the name. I got him a companion: a very plain-looking female. But he didn’t like her, and would try to bite her whenever she went near him. One time, I opened the feeding hole, and she actually jumped out of the water, and flapped about on the lid of the tank. I thought if that’s the lengths she will go to in order to get away from him, that relationship is a no-go. I got another smaller tank, and put her in there out of harms way.
After all that effort, not surprisingly perhaps, my fish tank flourished. The fish looked happy. They thrived and started to breed. One morning, I found lots of minute catfish fry darting around the water. I rushed up to the pet shop to buy a nursery (a small plastic container which fits in the main tank) to put them in. I was only gone about 15 minutes, but by the time I got back all the fry had gone; they’d all been eaten!
Another time, I found a large amount of black coloured eggs splashed on the wall of the tank. Judging by the number and placement, I figured they must have belonged to the angel fish. On reflection, I should have removed the eggs, because the following day they had all disappeared, and judging by the angel fishes visibly distended bellies it looked like they’d eaten them. Unfortunately, the angel fish had overfed, and they paid the consequences. The next day, one of them lay dead on the floor of the tank. It’s eyes were missing and there were bits of torn flesh floating around: the other fish were gorging on the unexpected feast. The other angel fish didn’t look too healthy either. It was swimming lob-sided, and the other fish kept nipping at it. I put it in the other tank, but it too died shortly after. I am a bit squeamish about things like that, and decided to call it a day. My fish keeping days were over.
To cut a long story short: